Badminton

«Dream performance» as Srikanth sets up Chen badminton final

India's Kidambi Srikanth blew away China's Shi Yuqi with a «dream» performance to set up an Australian Open final against Olympic champion Chen Long on Saturday.

Kidambi Srikanth, pictured on June 18, 2017, after beating Kazumasa Sakai of Japan, called his performance against China's Shi Yuqi a «dream,» as he defeated Shi and will play in his third Superseries final
Kidambi Srikanth, pictured on June 18, 2017, after beating Kazumasa Sakai of Japan, called his performance against China's Shi Yuqi a «dream,» as he defeated Shi and will play in his third Superseries final (AFP)

India's Kidambi Srikanth blew away China's Shi Yuqi with a "dream" performance to set up an Australian Open final against Olympic champion Chen Long on Saturday.

The 11th-ranked Srikanth beat Shi, the world number four, 21-10, 21-14 in just 37 minutes to reach his third successive Superseries final.

China's Chen gave himself a shot at his first Superseries title this year by fighting off South Korean veteran Lee Hyun-Il 26-24, 15-21, 21-17 in 68 minutes.

The women's final on Sunday will be an all-Japanese affair between Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara.

Okuhara made her first Superseries final in over a year, wearing down China's Sun Yu 21-18, 18-21, 21-14, while Yamaguchi played a brilliant counter-attacking game to shock Taiwanese top seed Tai Tzu Ying 21-19, 21-12.

Srikanth, who won last week's Indonesia Open and also reached the Singapore Open final in May, gave a masterclass in net play and deception to blitz Shi.

"Yes, it's a dream performance," Srikanth said. "I played a World Superseries final (Singapore Open) after two years, and then to play the next two finals is a dream for sure.

"I was in control of the whole match, I didn't give him any easy points at the start. It's just that I had to stay there and not give him easy points. I was in control at the net."

In the other men's semi-final, Lee pinned Chen to the lines and kept things tight until he chose his moment to attack.

Chen's usually airtight defence was frequently pierced as he struggled to read the lines of Lee's attack.

The Korean dominated the Olympic champion but failed to convert any of four game points in the opener. He took the second game and had his chances in the third until a late surge by Chen proved too much.

"I'm quite satisfied with my performance this tournament. I feel less pressure now as an independent player, that's why my performances have improved in recent times," Lee said.

In the women's semi-finals, Yamaguchi went for winners and never let off her pace against Tai, the world number one.

Tai stayed level through the first game but Yamaguchi got lucky on her first game point -– the shuttle catching the tape and tumbling into Tai's court -– and the Japanese consolidated her lead with solid play in the second.

Okuhara has lost four straight matches to her compatriot Yamaguchi, but she was hopeful of turning it around in Sunday's final.

"After the Rio Olympics, I had an injury and it has taken time to recover," Okuhara said.

"My condition is better now. I face Akane again. Last week I lost to her but I want to challenge her tomorrow."